Omaha Fashion Week organizers have extended their pavement.
Their spring production is starting to rival their annual fall catwalk show.
Is it as large? No. But the interest is definitely there. The designer clothing quality is there. And spectators are buying up VIP seats weeks prior to the event.
"We decided to do two seasons instead of one because many of our designers were ready to create new collections," said Brook Hudson, the event's producer. "We want to be more in step with larger markets that have two seasons."
Going into the week, fashion lovers were eager to see which local designers would wow them with new runway collections. A few did — and a few didn't.
A roundup of fashion tidbits from the reporter's notebook:
Omaha artist and designer Angela Balderston has earned a reputation for her cutting-edge creativity on the catwalk. She makes dresses from metal washers. Head pieces from tinsel. Skirts from garland. Cocktail dresses from bubble wrap.
Balderston, 52, showed her latest "Get Plastered" collection at Omaha Fashion Week's spring show Thursday night. Her avant-garde pieces were inspired by the holidays. Think tinsel, Christmas lights, garland and presents.
Balderston also is known for her pregnancy body casts.
Last August, she debuted glitzy body casts as chic wearable art. She makes masks from men's faces to hang on the wall and wearable tops from women's upper bodies.
But most of her business comes from pregnant women. They visit Angela's studio to be molded from medical casting tape — what you'd find at a doctor's office for a broken leg.
The casting takes about 45 minutes to an hour. The molded cast takes about 24 hours to dry.
She sprays the cast with a base coat, then decorates. Depending on the details and size, the casts range from $250 to $900.
— Josefina Loza
New fashion house
Fashion is ever-changing. That out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new attitude also applied to Omaha Fashion Week's location.
For years, Nomad Lounge housed the event. But the chic lounge was sold. And Fashion Week organizers moved to Kaneko, 1111 Jones St.
"The new venue, Kaneko, is awesome," said Nick Hudson, the event's executive producer. "They have been great partners in helping us, and we are really pleased with the results."
Omaha Fashion Week has always been a big show, attracting more than 6,500 people through the week for its August events. The spring show doesn't attract as many, but it's steadily growing.
"The feedback from the audience and participants with the new setup has been amazing," Hudson said. "Everyone loves it."
Cancer survivors take the runway
On Wednesday, the spring Omaha Fashion Week featured clothing found at local boutiques modeled by 40 cancer survivors.
The Survivors Style Show raised money for a Methodist Hospital program that helps cancer patients look their best.
The show aims to make a point: While cancer can change a woman's appearance, she can still be beautiful, and her inner beauty, her spirit, remain.
"The cancer survivor show was a unique experience for all the boutiques, stylists, organizers and volunteers," Nick Hudson said, "to see the beauty, courage and charisma of these women who have been and are still going through so much."
Some of the stories were absolutely breathtaking — from a 32-year-old still surviving brain cancer to a 62-year-old who wants people to know "there's hope and life after cancer."
Several of the models revealed their bald heads or short hair on the runway for the first time after months of hiding it under wigs, Hudson explained.
A roar of claps and cheers erupted when Joy Marshall, 27, strutted down the catwalk in mango-colored pants, a beige tank, wedge sandals and a shaved head.
She was bald. Bald and beautiful. Several audience members cried when they saw her.
Backstage, Marshall said she's undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma. "The challenges that they have been through and the new friends that they had made backstage getting ready for the show," are amazing, Hudson said. They're "strong, beautiful women."
The show raised $3,000 for the charity.
On Thursday, children's wear and fashion took center stage.
Designers Yolanda Diaz and Hollie Hanash both showed gorgeous children's wear collections. Diaz focused on ruffles, stirrup leggings, bows, cuffs, anklets and belts made of jersey material. Hanash's "Ruffled Runway" collection was more about girly frills — ruffles, lots of tulle and sparkle.
"The creativity of the designers ... was amazing," Nick Hudson said."We see their progress through the years. We had a number of visitors from out of state come up to us and express how impressed and amazed they were with the depth of talent that we have here locally."
Lots of color
On Friday, color blocks and coral hues seemed to be the biggest trends sashaying down the runway.
Emma Erickson's self-titled line of simple yet cute clothes seemed perfect for the Forever 21 set. The designs weren't too elaborate and yet had the perfect pop of embellishments, seen in some across-body stitching and intricate shoulder details. This line was the most accessible and could transition from runway to hallway. Her standout piece: a cream colored romper with flowy long sleeves, perfect for summer music festivals like Maha.
Princess Lasertron by Megan Hunt was inspired by the famous literary character Eloise — if Eloise were going through a rebellious phase. Overall, her designs were fun, but could have used a bit of touching up before hitting the stage.
Jane Round's self-titled line was the most put together line of the night — impressive considering she's a senior at Millard North High School. Her sewing skills were front row at the show with intricate layering and solid stitching all around. Round stole the show with a gorgeous tie-waisted, deep blue velvet coat. It was the "must have" item of the night.
— Valerie Novotny
Tiffany Headley of Donna Faye Couture said her Saturday show was an expression of her own personal style. It was rock meets the runway for Headley.
"But it's not just a rocker style up on the runway," she said. "It's that edge mixed with the whole high-end runway mentality."
She specifically requested models who had tattoos so she can show people that they can be high-end fashion models too.
"It's also an expression of my own battles, my love of ink and fashion versus the way the world sees me. I made everything black and white for my addiction to that stark contradiction." There is more underlying thought that went into this line than her past lines, she said.
From top to bottom, she wowed the audience. By far my favorite. I also have to mention that Kontempo Salon styled her models with jaw-dropping avant-garde hairdos, from enormous beehives to extension ponytails that bounced as the models walked.
Back in town
Kate Walz, the 15-year-old self-taught designer, showed a fun, girly collection of glam gowns with feather accents Saturday night. Her Just Because line was a mix of vintage and sparkle. Walz recently returned to Omaha after filming a reality show in New York about young designers.
The Hudsons officially launched the Omaha Fashion Institute, a nonprofit that helps mentor and finance new young designers, this week.
"It will help new designers — especially those still in high school — get started and support existing designers to develop their creativity and entrepreneurship skills," Nick Hudson explained. The institute's mission is to help cultivate and nurture talent in the Midwest.
Hollie Hanash update
We featured Hollie Hanash's Ruffled Runway children's collection in Thursday's World-Herald Go section and on momaha.com. She dressed a dozen of the cutest pint-sized models at Omaha Fashion Week. Here's what she said about her Thursday night show:
Q. Did anyone inquire about your pieces?
A. Several of my pieces sold before the show, but I did make several contacts that may help me increase my business.
Q. Do you like the new space?
A. The new space is an amazing space to showcase a collection. Backstage is really small and poorly lit, but the staff was great and made sure everyone was accommodated. I actually rented studio space nearby for us to get ready and do photos. It would have been too hard to keep the little ones from getting into mischief backstage.
Q. Do you like having a miniature boutique set up immediately after?
A. I think the boutique idea will need some tweaking, but it is a great concept. It would be a great way to make contacts and sales. It might be better if the designers from different nights could interact during intermission. This way the attendees could see what the designers on other nights have to offer.
Q. What about Fashion Week do you enjoy the most as a designer?
A. I love being part of such a great event. The designers are all very talented and have such different points of view and Omaha Fashion Week gives us the chance to showcase our talents. Brook and Nick Hudson are very supportive and have done an amazing job with Omaha Fashion Week. What an amazing opportunity for me to be a part of this!
Odds and ends
Jerell Scott of "Project Runway" spoke with a group of designers Saturday afternoon to encourage them to follow their dreams. He attended both Friday and Saturday shows.
Artist Jun Kaneko and his wife were in attendance for the last half of Saturday's runway show. They stood in the back.